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'My First Car' Concept Designs Combine Style With Affordability

4 January 1999

'My First Car' Concept Designs Combine Style With Affordability; Results of the Center for Creative Studies 10th Annual Steel Industry Summer Intern Program Revealed at the 1999 North American International Auto Show
    DETROIT, Jan. 3 -- The assignment: Create a concept proposal
for a vehicle that appeals to youthful first-time car buyers with a sticker
price under $16,000.  The outcome: three eye-catching vehicle designs that
combine the benefits of steel-intensive architecture with sleek design
    Center for Creative Studies (CCS) students Damon Depeyster, of Shelby
Township, Mich., Brian Dunty, of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Sean Ehlert, of
Brownsville, Texas, conceived these dynamic designs, which include a compact
coupe, a hatchback and a sport utility vehicle (SUV).  This design exercise
was the centerpiece of the 10th annual summer internship program, sponsored by
the Automotive Applications Committee of American Iron and Steel Institute
    Today, they unveiled the concept models at the 1999 North American
International Auto Show, held in Detroit, Mich.
    The three interns, students at the CCS transportation design program,
leveraged steel's strength and affordability to meet the stringent project
specifications.  "This project was challenging because it offered students the
opportunity to be creative while working under real-world cost and marketing
constraints," said Carl Olsen, chairman, transportation design program at CCS.
"Steel has a long history in automotive and because of its low cost, strength,
recyclibility, and design flexibility, it will continue to be the preferred
material for automotive.  It is important for young designers entering the
auto industry to learn about and work with steel," added Bob Buck, chairman of
the AAC.  "That's why we strongly support the CCS program."

    "My First Car" Designs

    The Luna
    To emphasize a lunar theme throughout this vehicle design, Damon Depeyster
incorporated distinct feature lines, resembling a crescent moon, into the
front and rear hoods.
    Depeyster designed the Luna around a Saturn coupe steel-based platform, a
popular-selling vehicle among first-time buyers.  For added strength and
personality, he designed a textured outer skin to the vehicle.  "Because I
consider personality to be a major purchase consideration among first-time
buyers, I wanted the Luna to reflect the profile of this customer segment.  So
I incorporated different textures on the vehicle body to give strength, save
weight and augment its individual style."

    The Photon
    Brian Dunty's goal for his concept car design was to provide young buyers
with an efficient, high-performance vehicle.  "Hot-rods and hot-hatches were
my inspiration," he said.  "I took the best features of both vehicles and
created a solid, practical design theme."
    Dunty designed his hatchback vehicle with abundant cargo space.  The
European-style cargo doors are side-hinged, like van cargo doors, allowing for
easy in-and-out access.  Rear passenger doors are rear-hinged and can be
accessed only when the front doors are open.  Dunty eliminated the traditional
glove box, replacing it with hydroformed-tube bins, which provide a place for
young owners to stow a backpack, sports equipment or general clutter that
Dunty says usually gathers in a young person's vehicle.  The hydroformed tubes
double as routing channels for HVAC vents, wiring and other components,
eliminating parts and simplifying the design.

    The Halo
    Sean Ehlert researched the market to see which sport utility vehicles
(SUVs) were interesting and appealing to first-time buyers.  "I wanted to
design an SUV that catered to individuals with active lifestyles," he said. "I
also wanted the design to have a strong identity."
    The Halo design calls for removable body panels that can quickly be
swapped to change colors, repair damage or access the vehicle underneath.  "I
like the interplay.  You have different colors, and then you could take one of
the panels off and replace it yourself," Ehlert says.  The two-door SUV is
designed to carry four passengers comfortably, along with cargo such as golf
clubs and camping gear.

    Steel Applications  --  Technology Transfer
    To further enhance the students' own design capabilities, they received an
extensive briefing on the technology and steel applications used in the steel
industry's UltraLight Steel Auto Body (ULSAB).  ULSAB is the industry's
showcase of lightweight, low cost, high performance materials and state-of-
the-art technologies.  The students also received advice on brand imaging from
General Motors Corporation marketing staff.
    "This year's internship program is valuable for the students because it
provides them with an opportunity to see how material and cost can impact a
vehicle's design," said Darryl Martin, director, Automotive Applications,
    The Center for Creative Studies provides an internationally prominent
environment for educating artists, designers, musicians and dancers.  The CCS-
College of Art and Design is one of the nation's leading private, degree-
granting visual arts schools with programs in crafts, fine arts, graphic
communication, industrial design, animation and digital media, interior design
and photography.  Pre-college and community education in music and dance is
offered through the CCS-Institute of Music and Dance.
    American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) is a non-profit association of
North American companies engaged in the iron and steel industry.  The
Institute is composed of 48 member companies, including integrated and
electric furnace steelmakers, and 173 associate and affiliate members who are
suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.  For more news about steel
and its applications, view American Iron and Steel Institute's website at
    The Automotive Applications Committee (AAC) is a subcommittee of the
Market Development Committee of AISI and focuses on advancing the use of steel
in the highly competitive automotive market.  With offices and staff located
in Detroit, cooperation between the automobile and steel industries has been
significant to its success.  This industry cooperation resulted in the
formation of the Auto/Steel Partnership, a consortium of Chrysler, Ford and
General Motors and the member companies of the AAC.